In these polarized times, I try to avoid controversy. But the history nerd in me demands I write about this.
With all the conflict about removing Civil War monuments, has anyone realized many of them look alike? North or South doesn’t even matter, a similarity runs through the entire country. And yes, there is a very practical reason.
As Kirk Savage, Associate Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America, explains, the Civil War was so consuming that virtually every town and village in the country wanted some type of remembrance. In the decades immediately after the war, demand was high, but creating monuments was time-consuming and expensive. So monuments were mass produced and could be ordered out of a catalog. (Note that many of the monuments to Confederate leaders that have been in the news don’t count; they were usually built later, sometimes to speak to other moments of racial strife.)
While reading this, I immediately thought of my own hometown of Pleasant Hill, OH. It has only about 1200 people, but a Civil War monument dominates downtown ( http://pleasanthillhistorycenter.com/places/monument ). It’s the iconic statue of the standing soldier, erected in 1895 at a cost of $725 and “Dedicated by the grateful people of Newton Township, in memory of her fallen heroes who died in defense of the Union and who sleep in unknown graves”. I found a photo (left) on the local history center’s website (the above link). As a check, I searched through Google Images and found this similar statue in Nuckolls County, Nebraska (right).
So maybe we’re more alike than we realize.
Taken from “The Surprising Reason Why So Many Civil War Memorials Look Almost Exactly the Same” by Lily Rothman ( http://time.com/5337148/civil-war-memorial-statues/? )